Everybody needs a little guidance now and then. We are all heroes, but sometimes our capes
There will always be an inspirational Instagram post, a best friend giving you a pep talk or
Wikihow to hold your hand through your problem. But how many times have we seen the
post, heard the friendly speech or read the help and thought ‘I’m not sure about that’? It’s
important to remember that, just as my size 6 shoes won’t fit your size 3, advice that works
for me might not work for you.
When I asked myself what the worst advice I’d ever received was, I struggled to think of just
one thing. Even some of the generic English idioms ‘keep your friends close and enemies
closer’ or ‘curiosity killed the cat’ are questionable. Why be close to your enemies and why
not be curious in a world where there’s so much to question?
Let’s start by questioning what exactly is wrong with being told you are too kind, making the
first move and forgiving but not forgetting.
‘You’re too nice’
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to blow my own trumpet and I’m nowhere near an angel.
But this phrase doesn’t sit well with me. In a world where you turn on the news and your
living room is flooded with horror stories – stories of communities who are not being
supported, lives that are not being saved and a planet that’s being destroyed – kindness seems
like it’s much needed.
Did you know it’s healthier for you to be kinder? According to Dr. David R. Hamiliton, when
completing kind actions it releases oxytocin, a hormone that releases chemicals dilating your
blood vessels. Yes, being kind lowers your blood pressure. It doesn’t stop there, oxytocin
increases self-esteem and optimism. This is because of ‘helper’s high’, named after research
from Emory University; the uplifting feeling we get from helping others. Dr. R Davidson
from University of Wisconsin even compared learning to be kind to weight training, asserting
that becoming compassionate is ‘like building muscle’.
Of course, continually being overly forgiving, accepting or tolerant may allow others to take
advantage of our ‘niceness’ and label us a pushover. But someone who continues to choose
kindness is surely pushing forward, not being pushed over?
‘Let them make the first move’
Have you ever made the first move? University of California San Francisco found that only
25% of the women they spoke to make or had ever made the first move. Interestingly though,
the same study found 72% of men resent the traditional stereotyping and would appreciate
women making the first move from time to time. Classic, heteronormative romance tropes
and narratives dictate that the man should be transfixed by a beautiful woman, and that it’s up
to him to charm his way into her good books. Think of Shakespeare’s Romeo, mesmerized by
Juliet, pushing through the crowd to say ‘She doth teach the torches burn bright!’.
But everyone wants to be wanted: why should it only be women who are made to feel
wanted? The feminist movement is fighting for equality of all sexes. This means we all need
to put a shift in and get a graft on.
The idea of being rejected is scary, but imagine if you’re not! That’s when your own Romeo
and Juliet story begins (but hopefully with less bloodshed and a happier ending).
‘Forgive and forget’
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it” states
American writer Mark Twain.
Forgiving can be a freeing experience. It can be a deep breath, an acceptance of reality and a
decision to move forward. In a 2016 study, Toussiant found that those who were more
forgiving on average experienced less stress. Another researcher named Enright deduced that
mental health improved significantly when people were more forgiving. I support forgiveness
– but not forgetting. Here’s why.
Everyone has been burnt. You put the flame out and rise from the ashes. But we shouldn’t
forget how the fire started or we will forget the strength we had to put it out.
All our experiences are valuable, they piece together the person we’re meant to become. You
live and you learn, as they say. Whether the experience is painted grey or painted rainbow,
they are all colours in your palette, waiting to help create your next masterpiece.
Go spread kindness, find your love story and forgive but don’t forget!
Words by Elena Cotton
Artwork Credit: Holly Warburton